In Syria, Trump must collude with Russia

April 13, 2018

President Donald Trump is under enormous pressure to respond militarily to the latest provocation by the Assad regime, but he would do so against all of his instincts and earlier pronouncements to end US military involvement in the Syrian war.

Just days before the chemical attacks in Douma, Trump announced he wanted US troops out of Syria within months, and that the fight against the Islamic State was largely completed.  Read more

A Turning Point in the Kurdish-Western Alliance?

March 1, 2018

The arrest in a Prague hotel of former Syrian Kurdish PYD (Democratic Union Party) leader Saleh Muslim Muhammad is a test case. Its outcome will establish the extent to which the central role Syrian Kurds have played in the fight against Islamic State has accrued some broader political legitimacy for their leadership and organizations.

Czech authorities arrested Muslim over the weekend after a Turkish participant at a conference in Prague took a photograph of him that was published by the Milliyetnewspaper. Read more

No ‘Russian Option’ for Israel in Syria

February 9, 2018

Why the failed Russian Sochi conference matters for Israel

The clear failure of Russia’s ‘Syrian National Dialogue Conference’ in the Black Sea resort of Sochi shows the limitations of the policy adopted by Moscow with regard to the Syrian civil war.  Since Israeli diplomatic efforts to contain the westward advance of Iran and its proxies in Syria are to a considerable extent dependent on the notion of Russian potency and effectiveness in this arena, decisionmakers in Jerusalem will have been watching the unfolding events at the conference with interest and some concern. Read more

Reality matters in Middle East, not Trump’s Jerusalem symbolism

December 16, 2017

JONATHAN SPYER, The Australian, December 16, 2017

The Jerusalem neighbourhood in which I live, on the seam line dividing Jew and Arab, can be a useful place to take the temperature of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In 2015 a wave of stabbing ­attacks against Israelis and Jews began. This was the result of a campaign of incitement by Islamist groups, according to which the government of Israel planned to change the status quo regarding the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif. Jewish prayer is forbidden on the Mount. The rumours held that this was set to change. Wilder notions of plans to replace the mosques with a rebuilt Jewish temple also were repeated. Read more

Bagdad and Tehran’s Goal: The Destruction of Kurdistan

October 28, 2017

The advance of the Iran-supported Iraqi government and paramilitary forces against their Kurdish opponents moved forward this week.

The Kurdish Regional Government, in a statement issued on the morning of October 25, offered to “freeze” the results of the referendum on independence conducted on September 25, in light of what it called the “grave and dangerous circumstances” currently prevailing. Read more

Israel Is Going to War in Syria to Fight Iran

September 28, 2017

JERUSALEM – Israeli officials believe that Iran is winning its bid for dominance in the Middle East, and they are mobilizing to counter the regional realignment that threatens to follow. The focus of Israel’s military and diplomatic campaign is Syria. Israeli jets have struck Hezbollah and Syrian regime facilities and convoys dozens of times during Syria’s civil war, with the goal of preventing the transfer of weapons systems from Iran to Hezbollah. In an apparent broadening of the scope of this air campaign, on Sept. 7 Israeli jets struck a Syrian weapons facility near Masyaf responsible for the production of chemical weapons and the storing of surface-to-surface missiles. Read more

Islamist violence in Marawi City a potential threat to Indonesia

July 9, 2017

The raising of so-called Islamic State’s black flag in a province that long has had a reputation for sectarian violence and Muslim resentment towards the central government in Manila has come as a rude shock to President Rodrigo Duterte, the maverick Philippine leader who prides himself on his tough approach to law and order. But it is also a wake-up call for Australia and the region.
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Australia Joins Philippines’ Fight Against Islamic State-Linked Militants

June 23, 2017

“It’s pretty clear they’re trying to emulate what ISIS has done in the Middle East,” said Alan Dupont, a strategic analyst at the Lowy Institute, a foreign-policy think tank in Sydney. “Marawi would be a magnet for disaffected people in Southeast Asia, including in Australia.” Australia has more at stake in the Philippines conflict than the U.S., Dr. Dupont added, because it is much closer.
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Lateline explores the blockade of Qatar – Lydia Khalil

June 15, 2017

Qatar remains cut off from its key trading partners by four powerful Gulf States including Saudi Arabia. As the blockade continues, Lateline’s Michael Vincent explores the key reasons for the escalation in tension. Lydia Khalil on ABC’s Lateline. Read more

US attacks on Syria

April 8, 2017

When President Trump came to office, Syria’s Bashar al-Assad was seen as a useful ally in the fight against so-called Islamic State. All talk of regime change stopped.

Rarely has a foreign policy changed so radically, so quickly and been acted on so decisively. Read more